I will not set my foot out of doors, till I have your direction: and I am the more secure, having dropt words to the people of the house where the coach set me down, as if I expected a chariot to meet me in my way to Hendon; a village a little distance from this. And when I left their house, I walked backward and forward upon the hill; at first, not knowing what to do; and afterwards, to be certain that I was not watched before I ventured to inquire after a lodging.
You will direct for me, my dear, by the name of Mrs. Harriot Lucas.
Had I not made my escape when I did, I was resolved to attempt it again and again. He was gone to the Commons for a license, as he wrote me word; for I refused to see him, notwithstanding the promise he extorted from me.
How hard, how next to impossible, my dear, to avoid many lesser deviations, when we are betrayed into a capital one!
For fear I should not get away at my first effort, I had apprized him, that I would not set eye upon him under a week, in order to gain myself time for it in different ways. And were I so to have been watched as to have made it necessary, I would, after such an instance of the connivance of the women of the house, have run out into the street, and thrown myself into the next house I could have entered, or claim protection from the first person I had met—Women to desert the cause of a poor creature of their own sex, in such a situation, what must they be!—Then, such poor guilty sort of figures did they make in the morning after he was gone out—so earnest to get me up stairs, and to convince me, by the scorched window-boards, and burnt curtains and vallens, that the fire was real—that (although I seemed to believe all they would have me believe) I was more and more resolved to get out of their house at all adventures.
When I began, I thought to write but a few lines. But, be my subject what it will, I know not how to conclude when I write to you. It was always so: it is not therefore owing peculiarly to that most interesting and unhappy situation, which you will allow, however, to engross at present the whole mind of
Your unhappy, but ever-affectionate CLARISSA HARLOWE.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. FRIDAY MORNING, PAST TWO O'CLOCK.
Io Triumphe!—Io Clarissa, sing!—Once more, what a happy man thy friend!—A silly dear novice, to be heard to tell the coachman where to carry her!—And to go to Hampstead, of all the villages about London!— The place where we had been together more than once!
Methinks I am sorry she managed no better!—I shall find the recovery of her too easy a task, I fear! Had she but known how much difficulty enhances the value of any thing with me, and had she the least notion of obliging me by it, she would never have stopt short at Hampstead, surely.
Well, but after al this exultation, thou wilt ask, If I have already got back my charmer?—I have not;—But knowing where she is, is almost the same thing as having her in my power. And it delights me to think how she will start and tremble when I first pop upon her! How she will look with conscious guilt, that will more than wipe off my guilt of Wednesday night, when she sees her injured lover, and acknowledged husband, from whom, the greatest of felonies, she would have stolen herself.
But thou wilt be impatient to know how I came by my lights. Read the enclosed letter, as I have told thee, I have given my fellow, in apprehension of such an elopement; and that will tell thee all, and what I may reasonably expect from the rascal's diligence and management, if he wishes ever to see my face again.
I received it about half an hour ago, just as I was going to lie down in my clothes, and it has made me so much alive, that, midnight as it is, I have sent for a Blunt's chariot, to attend me here by day peep, with my usual coachman, if possible; and knowing not what else to do with myself, I sat down, and, in the joy of my heart, have not only written thus far, but have concluded upon the measures I shall take when admitted to her presence: for well am I aware of the difficulties I shall have to contend with from her perverseness.
This is to sertifie your Honner, as how I am heer at Hamestet, where I have found out my lady to be in logins at one Mrs. Moore's, near upon Hamestet-Hethe. And I have so ordered matters, that her ladyship cannot stur but I must have notice of her goins and comins. As I knowed I durst not look into your Honner's fase, if I had not found out my lady, thoff she was gone off the prems's in a quarter of an hour, as a man may say; so I knowed you would be glad at hart to know I have found her out: and so I send thiss Petur Patrick, who is to have 5 shillings, it being now near 12 of the clock at nite; for he would not stur without a hearty drink too besides: and I was willing all shulde be snug likeways at the logins before I sent.
I have munny of youre Honner's; but I thought as how, if the man was payed by me beforend, he mought play trix; so left that to your Honner.
My lady knows nothing of my being hereaway. But I thoute it best not to leve the plase, because she has taken the logins but for a fue nites.
If your Honner come to the Upper Flax, I will be in site all the day about the tapp-house or the Hethe. I have borrowed another cote, instead of your Honner's liferie, and a blacke wigg; so cannot be knoen by my lady, iff as howe she shuld see me: and have made as if I had the tooth- ake; so with my hancriffe at my mothe, the teth which your Honner was pleased to bett out with your Honner's fyste, and my dam'd wide mothe, as your Honner notifys it to be, cannot be knoen to be mine.
The two inner letters I had from my lady, before she went off the prems's. One was to be left at Mr. Wilson's for Miss Howe. The next was to be for your Honner. But I knowed you was not at the plase directed; and being afear'd of what fell out, so I kept them for your Honner, and so could not give um to you, until I seed you. Miss How's I only made belief to her ladyship as I carried it, and sed as how there was nothing left for hur, as she wished to knoe: so here they be bothe.
I am, may it please your Honner, Your Honner's must dutiful, And, wonce more, happy servant, WM. SUMMERS.
The two inner letters, as Will. calls them, 'tis plain, were written for no other purpose, but to send him out of the way with them, and one of them to amuse me. That directed to Miss Howe is only this:—
THURSDAY, JUNE 8.
I write this, my dear Miss Howe, only for a feint, and to see if it will go current. I shall write at large very soon, if not miserably prevented!!!
Now, Jack, will not her feints justify mine! Does she not invade my province, thinkest thou? And is it not now fairly come to—Who shall most deceive and cheat the other? So, I thank my stars, we are upon a par at last, as to this point, which is a great ease to my conscience, thou must believe. And if what Hudibras tells us is true, the dear fugitive has also abundance of pleasure to come.
Doubtless the pleasure is as great In being cheated, as to cheat. As lookers-on find most delight, Who least perceive the juggler's sleight; And still the less they understand, The more admire the slight of hand.
This my dear juggler's letter to me; the other inner letter sent by Will.
THURSDAY, JUNE 8.
Do not give me cause to dread your return. If you would not that I should hate you for ever, send me half a line by the bearer, to assure me that you will not attempt to see me for a week to come. I cannot look you in the face without equal confusion and indignation. The obliging me in this, is but a poor atonement for your last night's vile behaviour.
You may pass this time in a journey to Lord M.'s; and I cannot doubt, if the ladies of your family are as favourable to me, as you have assured me they are, but that you will have interest enough to prevail with one of them to oblige me with their company. After your baseness of last night, you will not wonder, that I insist upon this proof of your future honour.
If Captain Tomlinson comes mean time, I can hear what he has to say, and send you an account of it.
But in less than a week if you see me, it must be owing to a fresh act of violence, of which you know not the consequence.
Send me the requested line, if ever you expect to have the forgiveness confirmed, the promise of which you extorted from
The unhappy CL. H.
Now, Belford, what canst thou say in behalf of this sweet rogue of a lady? What canst thou say for her? 'Tis apparent, that she was fully determined upon an elopement when she wrote it. And thus would she make me of party against myself, by drawing me in to give her a week's time to complete it. And, more wicked still, send me upon a fool's errand to bring up one of my cousins.—When we came to have the satisfaction of finding her gone off, and me exposed for ever!—What punishment can be bad enough for such a little villain of a lady?
But mind, moreover, how plausibly she accounts by this billet, (supposing she should not find an opportunity of eloping before I returned,) for the resolution of not seeing me for a week; and for the bread and butter expedient!—So childish as we thought it!
The chariot is not come; and if it were, it is yet too soon for every thing but my impatience. And as I have already taken all my measures, and can think of nothing but my triumph, I will resume her violent letter, in order to strengthen my resolutions against her. I was before in too gloomy a way to proceed with it. But now the subject is all alive to me, and my gayer fancy, like the sunbeams, will irradiate it, and turn the solemn deep-green into a brighter verdure.
When I have called upon my charmer to explain some parts of her letter, and to atone for others, I will send it, or a copy of it, to thee.
Suffice it at present to tell thee, in the first place, that she is determined never to be my wife.—To be sure there ought to be no compulsion in so material a case. Compulsion was her parents' fault, which I have censured so severely, that I shall hardly be guilty of the same. I am therefore glad I know her mind as to this essential point.
I have ruined her! she says.—Now that's a fib, take it her own way—if I had, she would not, perhaps, have run away from me.
She is thrown upon the wide world! Now I own that Hampstead-heath affords very pretty and very extensive prospects; but 'tis not the wide world neither. And suppose that to be her grievance, I hope soon to restore her to a narrower.
I am the enemy of her soul, as well as of her honour!—Confoundedly severe! Nevertheless, another fib!—For I love her soul very well; but think no more of it in this case than of my own.
She is to be thrown upon strangers!—And is not that her own fault?—Much against my will, I am sure!
She is cast from a state of independency into one of obligation. She never was in a state of independency; nor is it fit a woman should, of any age, or in any state of life. And as to the state of obligation, there is no such thing as living without being beholden to somebody. Mutual obligation is the very essence and soul of the social and commercial life:—Why should she be exempt from it? I am sure the person she raves at desires not such an exemption; has been long dependent upon her; and would rejoice to owe further obligations to her than he can boast of hitherto.
She talks of her father's curse!—But have I not repaid him for it an hundred fold in the same coin? But why must the faults of other people be laid at my door? Have I not enow of my own?
But the grey-eyed dawn begins to peep—let me sum up all.
In short, then, the dear creature's letter is a collection of invectives not very new to me: though the occasion for them, no doubt is new to her. A little sprinkling of the romantic and contradictory runs through it. She loves, and she hates; she encourages me to pursue her, by telling me I safely may; and yet she begs I will not. She apprehends poverty and want, yet resolves to give away her estate; To gratify whom?—Why, in short, those who have been the cause of her misfortunes. And finally, though she resolves never to be mine, yet she has some regrets at leaving me, because of the opening prospects of a reconciliation with her friends.
But never did morning dawn so tardily as this!—Neither is the chariot yet come.
A gentleman to speak with me, Dorcas?—Who can want me thus early?
Captain Tomlinson, sayest thou? Surely he must have traveled all night! Early riser as I am, how could he think to find me up thus early?
Let but the chariot come, and he shall accompany me in it to the bottom of the hill, (though he return to town on foot; for the Captain is all obliging goodness,) that I may hear all he has to say, and tell him all my mind, and lose no time.
Well, now I am satisfied that this rebellious flight will turn to my advantage, as all crushed rebellions do to the advantage of a sovereign in possession.
Dear Captain, I rejoice to see you—just in the nick of time—See! See!
The rosy-finger'd morn appears, And from her mantle shakes her tears: The sun arising mortals cheers, And drives the rising mists away, In promise of a glorious day.
Excuse me, Sir, that I salute you from my favourite bard. He that rises with the lark will sing with the lark. Strange news since I saw you, Captain!—Poor mistaken lady!—But you have too much goodness, I know, to reveal to her uncle Harlowe the error of this capricious beauty. It will all turn out for the best. You must accompany me part of the way. I know the delight you take in composing differences. But 'tis the task of the prudent to heal the breaches made by the rashness and folly of the imprudent.
And now, (all around me so still and so silent,) the rattling of the chariot-wheels at a street's distance do I hear! And to this angel of a woman I fly!
Reward, O God of Love! [The cause is thy own!] Reward thou, as it deserves, my suffering perseverance!—Succeed my endeavours to bring back to thy obedience this charming fugitive! Make her acknowledge her rashness; repent her insults; implore my forgiveness; beg to be reinstated in my favour, and that I will bury in oblivion the remembrance of her heinous offence against thee, and against me, thy faithful votary.
The chariot at the door!—I come! I come!
I attend you, good Captain—
Pray, Sir—civility is not ceremony.
And now, dressed as a bridegroom, my heart elated beyond that of the most desiring one, (attended by a footman whom my beloved never saw,) I am already at Hampstead!
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. UPPER-FLASK, HAMPSTEAD. FRI. MORN. 7 O'CLOCK. (JUNE 9.)
I am now here, and here have been this hour and half.—What an industrious spirit have I!—Nobody can say that I eat the bread of idleness. I take true pains for all the pleasure I enjoy. I cannot but admire myself strangely; for certainly, with this active soul, I should have made a very great figure in whatever station I had filled. But had I been a prince, (to be sure I should have made a most noble prince!) I should have led up a military dance equal to that of the great Macedonian. I should have added kingdom to kingdom, and despoiled all my neighbour sovereigns, in order to have obtained the name of Robert the Great! And I would have gone to war with the Great Turk, and the Persian, and Mogul, for the seraglios; for not one of those eastern monarchs should have had a pretty woman to bless himself with till I had done with her.
And now I have so much leisure upon my hands, that, after having informed myself of all necessary particulars, I am set to my short-hand writing in order to keep up with time as well as I can; for the subject is now become worthy of me; and it is yet too soon, I doubt, to pay my compliments to my charmer, after all her fatigues for two or three days past. And, moreover, I have abundance of matters preparative to my future proceedings to recount, in order to connect and render all intelligible.
I parted with the Captain at the foot of the hill, trebly instructed; that is to say, as to the fact, to the probable, and to the possible. If my beloved and I can meet, and make up without the mediating of this worthy gentleman, it will be so much the better. As little foreign aid as possible in my amorous conflicts has always been a rule with me; though here I have been obliged to call in so much. And who knows but it may be the better for the lady the less she makes necessary? I cannot bear that she should sit so indifferent to me as to be in earnest to part with me for ever upon so slight, or even upon any occasion. If I find she is—but no more threatenings till she is in my power—thou knowest what I have vowed.
All Will.'s account, from the lady's flight to his finding her again, all the accounts of the people of the house, the coachman's information to Will., and so forth, collected together, stand thus:
'The Hampstead coach, when the dear fugitive came to it, had but two passengers in it. But she made the fellow to go off directly, paying for the vacant places.
'The two passengers directing the coachman to set them down at the Upper Flask, she bid him set her down there also.
'They took leave of her, [very respectfully, no doubt,] and she went into the house, and asked, if she could not have a dish of tea, and a room to herself for half an hour.
'They showed her up to the very room where I now am. She sat at the very table I now write upon; and, I believe, the chair I sit in was her's.' O Belford, if thou knowest what love is, thou wilt be able to account for these minutiae.
'She seemed spiritless and fatigued. The gentlewoman herself chose to attend so genteel and lovely a guest. She asked her if she would have bread and butter with her tea?
'No. She could not eat.
'They had very good biscuits.
'As she pleased.
'The gentlewoman stept out for some, and returning on a sudden, she observed the sweet little fugitive endeavouring to restrain a violent burst of grief to which she had given way in the little interval.
'However, when the tea came, she made the landlady sit down with her, and asked her abundance of questions, about the villages and roads in the neighbourhood.
'The gentlewoman took notice to her, that she seemed to be troubled in mind.
'Tender spirits, she replied, could not part with dear friends without concern.'
She meant me, no doubt.
'She made no inquiry about a lodging, though by the sequel, thou'lt observe, that she seemed to intend to go no farther that night than Hampstead. But after she had drank two dishes, and put a biscuit in her pocket, [sweet soul! to serve for her supper, perhaps,] she laid down half-a-crown; and refusing change, sighing, took leave, saying she would proceed towards Hendon; the distance to which had been one of her questions.
'They offered to send to know if a Hampstead coach were not to go to Hendon that evening.
'No matter, she said—perhaps she might meet the chariot.'
Another of her feints, I suppose: for how, or with whom, could any thing of this sort have been concerted since yesterday morning?
'She had, as the people took notice to one another, something so uncommonly noble in her air, and in her person and behaviour, that they were sure she was of quality. And having no servant with her of either sex, her eyes, [her fine eyes, the gentlewoman called them, stranger as she was, and a woman!] being swelled and red, they were sure there was an elopement in the case, either from parents or guardians; for they supposed her too young and too maidenly to be a married lady; and were she married, no husband would let such a fine young creature to be unattended and alone; nor give her cause for so much grief, as seemed to be settled in her countenance. Then at times she seemed to be so bewildered, they said, that they were afraid she had it in her head to make away with herself.
'All these things put together, excited their curiosity; and they engaged a peery servant, as they called a footman who was drinking with Kit. the hostler, at the tap-house, to watch all her motions. This fellow reported the following particulars, as they re-reported to me:
'She indeed went towards Hendon, passing by the sign of the Castle on the Heath; then, stopping, looked about her, and down into the valley before her. Then, turning her face towards London, she seemed, by the motion of her handkerchief to her eyes, to weep; repenting [who knows?] the rash step she had taken, and wishing herself back again.'
Better for her, if she do, Jack, once more I say!—Woe be to the girl who could think of marrying me, yet to be able to run away from me, and renounce me for ever!
'Then, continuing on a few paces, she stopt again—and, as if disliking her road, again seeming to weep, directed her course back towards Hampstead.'
I am glad she wept so much, because no heart bursts, (be the occasion for the sorrow what it will,) which has that kindly relief. Hence I hardly ever am moved at the sight of these pellucid fugitives in a fine woman. How often, in the past twelve hours, have I wished that I could cry most confoundedly?
'She then saw a coach-and-four driving towards her empty. She crossed the path she was in, as if to meet it, and seemed to intend to speak to the coachman, had he stopt or spoken first. He as earnestly looked at her.—Every one did so who passed her, (so the man who dogged her was the less suspected.')—Happy rogue of a coachman, hadst thou known whose notice thou didst engage, and whom thou mightest have obliged!—It was the divine Clarissa Harlowe at whom thou gazest!—Mine own Clarissa Harlowe!—But it was well for me that thou wert as undistinguishing as the beasts thou drovest; otherwise, what a wild-goose chace had I been led?
'The lady, as well as the coachman, in short, seemed to want resolution; —the horses kept on—[the fellow's head and eyes, no doubt, turned behind him,] and the distance soon lengthened beyond recall. With a wistful eye she looked after him; sighed and wept again; as the servant who then slyly passed her, observed.
'By this time she had reached the houses. She looked up at every one as she passed; now and then breathing upon her bared hand, and applying it to her swelled eyes, to abate the redness, and dry the tears. At last, seeing a bill up for letting lodgings, she walked backwards and forwards half a dozen times, as if unable to determine what to do. And then went farther into the town, and there the fellow, being spoken to by one of his familiars, lost her for a few minutes: but he soon saw her come out of a linen-drapery shop, attended with a servant-maid, having, as it proved, got that maid-servant to go with her to the house she is now at.*
* See Letter XXI. of this volume.
'The fellow, after waiting about an hour, and not seeing her come out, returned, concluding that she had taken lodgings there.'
And here, supposing my narrative of the dramatic kind, ends Act the first. And now begins
ACT II SCENE.—Hampstead Heath continued. ENTER MY RASCAL.
Will. having got at all these particulars, by exchanging others as frankly against them, with which I had formerly prepared him both verbally and in writing.—I found the people already of my party, and full of good wishes for my success, repeating to me all they told him.
But he had first acquainted me with the accounts he had given them of his lady and me. It is necessary that I give thee the particulars of his tale, and I have a little time upon my hands: for the maid of the house, who had been out of an errand, tells us, that she saw Mrs. Moore, [with whom must be my first business,] go into the house of a young gentleman, within a few doors of her, who has a maiden sister, Miss Rawlins by name, so notified for prudence, that none of her acquaintance undertake any thing of consequence without consulting her.
Meanwhile my honest coachman is walking about Miss Rawlin's door, in order to bring me notice of Mrs. Moore's return to her own house. I hope her gossip's-tale will be as soon told as mine—which take as follows:—
Will. told them, before I came, 'That his lady was but lately married to one of the finest gentlemen in the world. But that he, being very gay and lively, she was mortal jealous of him; and, in a fit of that sort, had eloped from him. For although she loved him dearly, and he doated upon her, (as well he might, since, as they had seen, she was the finest creature that ever the sun shone upon,) yet she was apt to be very wilful and sullen, if he might take liberty to say so—but truth was truth;—and if she could not have her own way in every thing, would be for leaving him. That she had three or four times played his master such tricks; but with all the virtue and innocence in the world; running away to an intimate friend of her's, who, though a young lady of honour, was but too indulgent to her in this only failing; for which reason his master has brought her to London lodgings; their usual residence being in the country: and that, on his refusing to satisfy her about a lady he had been seen with in St. James's Park, she had, for the first time since she came to town, served his master thus, whom he had left half-distracted on this account.'
And truly well he might, poor gentleman! cried the honest folks, pitying me before they saw me.
'He told them how he came by his intelligence of her; and made himself such an interest with them, that they helped him to a change of clothes for himself; and the landlord, at his request, privately inquired, if the lady actually remained at Mrs. Moore's, and for how long she had taken the lodgings?—which he found only to be for a week certain; but she had said, that she believed she should hardly stay so long. And then it was that he wrote his letter, and sent it by honest Peter Patrick, as thou hast heard.'
When I came, my person and dress having answered Will.'s description, the people were ready to worship me. I now-and-then sighed, now-and-then put on a lighter air; which, however, I designed should show more of vexation ill-disguised, than of real cheerfulness; and they told Will. it was such a thousand pities so fine a lady should have such skittish tricks; adding, that she might expose herself to great dangers by them; for that there were rakes every where—[Lovelaces in every corner, Jack!] and many about that town, who would leave nothing unattempted to get into her company; and although they might not prevail upon her, yet might they nevertheless hurt her reputation; and, in time, estrange the affections of so fine a gentleman from her.
Good sensible people these!—Hey, Jack!
Here, Landlord, one word with you.—My servant, I find, has acquainted you with the reason of my coming this way.—An unhappy affair, Landlord! —A very unhappy affair!—But never was there a more virtuous woman.
So, Sir, she seems to be. A thousand pities her ladyship has such ways— and to so good-humoured a gentleman as you seem to be, Sir.
Mother-spoilt, Landlord!—Mother-spoilt!—that's the thing!—But [sighing] I must make the best of it. What I want you to do for me is to lend me a great-coat.—I care not what it is. If my spouse should see me at a distance, she would make it very difficult for me to get at her speech. A great-coat with a cape, if you have one. I must come upon her before she is aware.
I am afraid, Sir, I have none fit for such a gentleman as you.
O, any thing will do!—The worse the better.
Exit Landlord.—Re-enter with two great-coats.
Ay, Landlord, this will be best; for I can button the cape over the lower part of my face. Don't I look devilishly down and concerned, Landlord?
I never saw a gentleman with a better-natured look.—'Tis pity you should have such trials, Sir.
I must be very unhappy, no doubt of it, Landlord.—And yet I am a little pleased, you must needs think, that I have found her out before any great inconvenience has arisen to her. However, if I cannot break her of these freaks, she'll break my heart; for I do love her with all her failings.
The good woman, who was within hearing of all this, pitied me much.
Pray, your Honour, said she, if I may be so bold, was madam ever a mamma?
No—[and I sighed.]—We have been but a little while married; and as I may say to you, it is her own fault that she is not in that way. [Not a word of a lie in this, Jack.] But to tell you truth, Madam, she may be compared to the dog in the manger—
I understand you, Sir, [simpering,] she is but young, Sir. I have heard of one or two such skittish young ladies, in my time, Sir.—But when madam is in that way, I dare say, as she loves you, (and it would be strange if she did not!) all this will be over, and she may make the best of wives.
That's all my hope.
She is a fine lady as I ever beheld.—I hope, Sir, you won't be too severe. She'll get over all these freaks, if once she be a mamma, I warrant.
I can't be severe to her—she knows that. The moment I see her, all resentment is over with me, if she gives me but one kind look.
All this time I was adjusting the horseman's coat, and Will. was putting in the ties of my wig,* and buttoning the cape over my chin.
* The fashionable wigs at that time.
I asked the gentlewoman for a little powder. She brought me a powder- box, and I slightly shook the puff over my hat, and flapt one side of it, though the lace looked a little too gay for my covering; and, slouching it over my eyes, Shall I be known, think you, Madam?
Your Honour is so expert, Sir!—I wish, if I may be so bold, your lady has not some cause to be jealous. But it will be impossible, if you keep your laced clothes covered, that any body should know you in that dress to be the same gentleman—except they find you out by your clocked stockings.
Well observed—Can't you, Landlord, lend or sell me a pair of stockings, that will draw over these? I can cut off the feet, if they won't go into my shoes.
He could let me have a pair of coarse, but clean, stirrup stockings, if I pleased.
The best in the world for the purpose.
He fetch'd them. Will. drew them on; and my legs then made a good gouty appearance.
The good woman smiling, wished me success; and so did the landlord. And as thou knowest that I am not a bad mimic, I took a cane, which I borrowed of the landlord, and stooped in the shoulders to a quarter of a foot less height, and stumped away cross to the bowling-green, to practise a little the hobbling gait of a gouty man.—The landlady whispered her husband, as Will. tells me, He's a good one, I warrant him —I dare say the fault lies not at all of one side. While mine host replied, That I was so lively and so good-natured a gentleman, that he did not know who could be angry with me, do what I would. A sensible fellow!—I wish my charmer were of the same opinion.
And now I am going to try if I can't agree with goody Moore for lodgings and other conveniencies for my sick wife.
'Wife, Lovelace?' methinks thou interrogatest.
Yes, wife, for who knows what cautions the dear fugitive may have given in apprehension of me?
'But has goody Moore any other lodgings to let?'
Yes, yes; I have taken care of that; and find that she has just such conveniencies as I want. And I know that my wife will like them. For, although married, I can do every thing I please; and that's a bold word, you know. But had she only a garret to let, I would have liked it; and been a poor author afraid of arrests, and made that my place of refuge; yet would have made shift to pay beforehand for what I had. I can suit myself to any condition, that's my comfort.
The widow Moore returned! say you?—Down, down, flutterer!—This impertinent heart is more troublesome to me than my conscience, I think. —I shall be obliged to hoarsen my voice, and roughen my character, to keep up with its puppily dancings.
But let me see, shall I be angry or pleased when I am admitted to my beloved's presence?
Angry to be sure.—Has she not broken her word with me?—At a time too when I was meditating to do her grateful justice?—And is not breach of word a dreadful crime in good folks?—I have ever been for forming my judgment of the nature of things and actions, not so much from what they are in themselves, as from the character of the actors. Thus it would be as odd a thing in such as we to keep our words with a woman, as it would be wicked in her to break her's to us.
Seest thou not that this unseasonable gravity is admitted to quell the palpitations of this unmanageable heart? But still it will go on with its boundings. I'll try as I ride in my chariot to tranquilize.
'Ride, Bob! so little a way?'
Yes, ride, Jack; for am I not lame? And will it not look well to have a lodger who keeps his chariot? What widow, what servant, asks questions of a man with an equipage?
My coachman, as well as my other servant, is under Will.'s tuition.
Never was there such a hideous rascal as he has made himself. The devil only and his other master can know him. They both have set their marks upon him. As to my honour's mark, it will never be out of his dam'd wide mothe, as he calls it. For the dog will be hanged before he can lose the rest of his teeth by age.
I am gone.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. HAMPSTEAD, FRIDAY NIGHT, JUNE 9.
Now, Belford, for the narrative of narratives. I will continue it as I have opportunity; and that so dexterously, that, if I break off twenty times, thou shalt not discern where I piece my thread.
Although grievously afflicted with the gout, I alighted out of my chariot (leaning very hard on my cane with one hand, and on my new servant's shoulder with the other) the same instant almost that he had knocked at the door, that I might be sure of admission into the house.
I took care to button my great coat about me, and to cover with it even the pummel of my sword, it being a little too gay for my years. I knew not what occasion I might have for my sword. I stooped forward; blinked with my eyes to conceal their lustre (no vanity in saying that, Jack); my chin wrapt up for the tooth-ache; my slouched, laced hat, and so much of my wig as was visible, giving me, all together, the appearance of an antiquated beau.
My wife, I resolved beforehand, should have a complication of disorders.
The maid came to the door. I asked for her mistress. She showed me into one of the parlours; and I sat down with a gouty Oh!—
ENTER GOODY MOORE.
Your servant, Madam—but you must excuse me; I cannot well stand—I find by the bill at the door, that you have lodgings to let [mumbling my words as if, like my man Will., I had lost some of my fore-teeth]: be pleased to inform me what they are; for I like your situation—and I will tell you my family—I have a wife, a good old woman—older than myself, by the way, a pretty deal. She is in a bad state of health, and is advised into the Hampstead air. She will have two maid servants and a footman. The coach or chariot (I shall not have them put up both together) we can put up any where, and the coachman will be with his horses.
When, Sir, shall you want to come in?
I will take them from this very day; and, if convenient, will bring my wife in the afternoon.
Perhaps, Sir, you would board, as well as lodge?
That as you please. It will save me the trouble of bringing my cook, if we do. And I suppose you have servants who know how to dress a couple of dishes. My wife must eat plain food, and I don't love kickshaws.
We have a single lady, who will be gone in two or three days. She has one of the best apartments: that will then be at liberty.
You have one or two good ones mean time, I presume, Madam, just to receive my wife; for we have lost time—these damn'd physicians—excuse me, Madam, I am not used to curse; but it is owing to the love I have for my wife—they have kept her in hand, till they are ashamed to take more fees, and now advise her to the air. I wish we had sent her hither at first. But we must now make the best of it.
Excuse me, Madam, [for she looked hard at me,] that I am muffled up in this warm weather. I am but too sensible that I have left my chamber sooner that I ought, and perhaps shall have a return of my gout for it. I came out thus muffled up with a dreadful pain in my jaws; an ague in them, I believe. But my poor dear will not be satisfied with any body's care but mine. And, as I told thee, we have lost time.
You shall see what accommodations I have, if you please, Sir. But I doubt you are too lame to walk up stairs.
I can make shift to hobble up now I have rested a little. I'll just look upon the apartment my wife is to have. Any thing may do for the servants: and as you seem to be a good sort of gentlewoman, I shan't stand for a price, and will pay well besides for the trouble I shall give.
She led the way; and I, helping myself by the banisters, made shift to get up with less fatigue than I expected from ancles so weak. But oh! Jack, what was Sixtus the Vth.'s artful depression of his natural powers to mine, when, as this half-dead Montalto, he gaped for the pretendedly unsought pontificate, and the moment he was chosen leapt upon the prancing beast, which it was thought by the amazed conclave he was not able to mount, without help of chairs and men? Never was there a more joyful heart and lighter heels than mine joined together; yet both denied their functions; the one fluttering in secret, ready to burst its bars for relief-ful expression, the others obliged to an hobbling motion; when, unrestrained, they would, in their master's imagination, have mounted him to the lunar world without the help of a ladder.
There were three rooms on a floor: two of them handsome; and the third, she said, still handsomer; but the lady was in it.
I saw, I saw she was! for as I hobbled up, crying out upon my weak ancles, in the hoarse mumbling voice I had assumed, I beheld a little piece of her as she just cast an eye (with the door a-jar, as they call it) to observe who was coming up; and, seeing such an old clumsy fellow, great coated in weather so warm, slouched and muffled up, she withdrew, shutting the door without any emotion. But it was not so with me; for thou canst not imagine how my heart danced to my mouth, at the very glimpse of her; so that I was afraid the thump, thump, thumping villain, which had so lately thumped as much to no purpose, would have choked me.
I liked the lodging well; and the more as she said the third room was still handsomer. I must sit down, Madam, [and chose the darkest part of the room]: Won't you take a seat yourself?—No price shall part us—but I will leave the terms to you and my wife, if you please. And also whether for board or not. Only please to take this for earnest, putting a guinea into her hand—and one thing I will say; my poor wife loves money; but is not an ill-natured woman. She was a great fortune to me: but, as the real estate goes away at her death, I would fain preserve her for that reason, as well as for the love I bear her as an honest man. But if she makes too close a bargain with you, tell me; and, unknown to her, I will make it up. This is my constant way: she loves to have her pen'orths; and I would not have her vexed or made uneasy on any account.
She said, I was a very considerate gentleman; and, upon the condition I had mentioned, she was content to leave the terms to my lady.
But, Madam, cannot a body just peep into the other apartment; that I may be more particular to my wife in the furniture of it?
The lady desires to be private, Sir—but—and was going to ask her leave.
I caught hold of her arm—However, stay, stay, Madam: it mayn't be proper, if the lady loves to be private. Don't let me intrude upon the lady—
No intrusion, Sir, I dare say: the lady is good-humoured. She will be so kind as to step down into the parlour, I dare say. As she stays so little a while, I am sure she will not wish to stand in my way.
No, Madam, that's true, if she be good-humoured, as you say—Has she been with you long, Madam?
She came but yesterday, Sir—
I believe I just now saw the glimpse of her. She seems to be an elderly lady.
No, Sir! you're mistaken. She's a young lady; and one of the handsomest I ever saw.
Cot so, I beg her pardon! Not but that I should have liked her the better, were she to stay longer, if she had been elderly. I have a strange taste, Madam, you'll say; but I really, for my wife's sake, love every elderly woman. Indeed I ever thought age was to be reverenced, which made me (taking the fortune into the scale too, that I own) make my addresses to my present dear.
Very good of you, Sir, to respect age: we all hope to live to be old.
Right, Madam.—But you say the lady is beautiful. Now you must know, that though I choose to converse with the elderly, yet I love to see a beautiful young woman, just as I love to see fine flowers in a garden. There's no casting an eye upon her, is there, without her notice? For in this dress, and thus muffled up about my jaws, I should not care to be seen any more than she, let her love privacy as much as she will.
I will go and ask if I may show a gentleman the apartment, Sir; and, as you are a married gentleman, and not over young, she'll perhaps make the less scruple.
Then, like me, she loves elderly folks best perhaps. But it may be she has suffered by young ones.
I fancy she has, Sir, or is afraid she shall. She desired to be very private; and if by description inquired after, to be denied.
Thou art a true woman, goody Moore, thought I.
Good lack—good lack!—What may be her story then, I pray?
She is pretty reserved in her story: but, to tell you my thoughts, I believe love is in the case: she is always in tears, and does not much care for company.
Nay, Madam, it becomes not me to dive into ladies' secrets; I want not to pry into other people's affairs. But, pray, how does she employ herself?—Yet she came but yesterday; so you can't tell.
Writing continually, Sir.
These women, Jack, when you ask them questions by way of information, don't care to be ignorant of any thing.
Nay, excuse me, Madam, I am very far from being an inquisitive man. But if her case be difficult, and not merely love, as she is a friend of your's, I would give her my advice.
Then you are a lawyer, Sir—
Why, indeed, Madam, I was some time at the bar; but I have long left practice; yet am much consulted by my friends in difficult points. In a pauper case I frequently give money; but never take any from the richest.
You are a very good gentleman, then, Sir.
Ay, Madam, we cannot live always here; and we ought to do what good we can—but I hate to appear officious. If the lady stay any time, and think fit, upon better acquaintance, to let me into her case, it may be a happy day for her, if I find it a just one; for, you must know, that when I was at the bar, I never was such a sad fellow as to undertake, for the sake of a paltry fee, to make white black, and black white: For what would that have been, but to endeavour to establish iniquity by quirks, while I robbed the innocent?
You are an excellent gentleman, Sir: I wish [and then she sighed] I had had the happiness to know there was such a lawyer in the world; and to have been acquainted with him.
Come, come, Mrs. Moore, I think your name is, it may not be too late— when you and I are better acquainted, I may help you perhaps.—But mention nothing of this to the lady: for, as I said, I hate to appear officious.
This prohibition, I knew, if goody Moore answered the specimen she had given of her womanhood, would make her take the first opportunity to tell, were it to be necessary to my purpose that she should.
I appeared, upon the whole, so indifferent about seeing the room, or the lady, that the good woman was the more eager I should see both. And the rather, as I, to stimulate her, declared, that there was more required in my eye to merit the character of a handsome woman, than most people thought necessary; and that I had never seen six truly lovely women in my life.
To be brief, she went in; and after a little while came out again. The lady, Sir, is retired to her closet. So you may go in and look at the room.
Then how my heart began again to play its pug's tricks!
I hobbled in, and stumped about, and liked it very much; and was sure my wife would. I begged excuse for sitting down, and asked, who was the minister of the place? If he were a good preacher? Who preached at the Chapel? And if he were a good preacher, and a good liver too, Madam—I must inquire after that: for I love, but I must needs say, that the clergy should practise what they preach.
Very right, Sir; but that is not so often the case as were to be wished.
More's the pity, Madam. But I have a great veneration for the clergy in general. It is more a satire upon human nature than upon the cloth, if we suppose those who have the best opportunities to do good, less perfect than other people. For my part, I don't love professional any more than national reflections.—But I keep the lady in her closet. My gout makes me rude.
Then up from my seat stumped I—what do you call these window-curtains, Madam?
It looks mighty well, truly. I like it better than silk. It is warmer to be sure, and much fitter for lodgings in the country; especially for people in years. The bed is in a pretty state.
It is neat and clean, Sir: that's all we pretend to.
Ay, mighty well—very well—a silk camblet, I think—very well, truly!—I am sure my wife will like it. But we would not turn the lady out of her lodgings for the world. The other two apartments will do for us at present.
Then stumping towards the closet, over the door of which hung a picture—What picture is that—Oh! I see; a St. Cecilia!
A common print, Sir!
Pretty well, pretty well! It is after an Italian master.—I would not for the world turn the lady out of her apartment. We can make shift with the other two, repeated I, louder still: but yet mumblingly hoarse: for I had as great regard to uniformity in accent, as to my words.
O Belford! to be so near my angel, think what a painful constraint I was under.
I was resolved to fetch her out, if possible: and pretending to be going—you can't agree as to any time, Mrs. Moore, when we can have this third room, can you?—Not that [whispered I, loud enough to be heard in the next room; not that] I would incommode the lady: but I would tell my wife when abouts—and women, you know, Mrs. Moore, love to have every thing before them of this nature.
Mrs. Moore (said my charmer) [and never did her voice sound so harmonious to me: Oh! how my heart bounded again! It even talked to me, in a manner; for I thought I heard, as well as felt, its unruly flutters; and every vein about me seemed a pulse; Mrs. Moore] you may acquaint the gentleman, that I shall stay here only for two or three days at most, till I receive an answer to a letter I have written into the country; and rather than be your hindrance, I will take up with any apartment a pair of stairs higher.
Not for the world!—Not for the world, young lady! cried I.—My wife, as I love her, should lie in a garret, rather than put such a considerate young lady, as you seem to be, to the least inconveniency.
She opened not the door yet; and I said, but since you have so much goodness, Madam, if I could but just look into the closet as I stand, I could tell my wife whether it is large enough to hold a cabinet she much values, and ill have with her wherever she goes.
Then my charmer opened the door, and blazed upon me, as it were, in a flood of light, like what one might imagine would strike a man, who, born blind, had by some propitious power been blessed with his sight, all at once, in a meridian sun.
Upon my soul, I never was so strangely affected before. I had much ado to forbear discovering myself that instant: but, hesitatingly, and in great disorder, I said, looking into the closet and around it, there is room, I see, for my wife's cabinet; and it has many jewels in it of high price; but, upon my soul, [for I could not forbear swearing, like a puppy: habit is a cursed thing, Jack—] nothing so valuable as a lady I see, can be brought into it.
She started, and looked at me with terror. The truth of the compliment, as far as I know, had taken dissimulation from my accent.
I saw it was impossible to conceal myself longer from her, any more than (from the violent impulses of my passion) to forbear manifesting myself. I unbuttoned therefore my cape, I pulled off my flapt slouched hat; I threw open my great coat, and, like the devil in Milton [an odd comparison though!]—
I started up in my own form divine, Touch'd by the beam of her celestial eye, More potent than Ithuriel's spear!—
Now, Belford, for a similitude—now for a likeness to illustrate the surprising scene, and the effect it had upon my charmer, and the gentlewoman!—But nothing was like it, or equal to it. The plain fact can only describe it, and set it off—thus then take it.
She no sooner saw who it was, than she gave three violent screams; and, before I could catch her in my arms, (as I was about to do the moment I discovered myself,) down she sunk at my feet in a fit; which made me curse my indiscretion for so suddenly, and with so much emotion, revealing myself.
The gentlewoman, seeing so strange an alteration in my person, and features, and voice, and dress, cried out, Murder, help! murder, help! by turns, for half a dozen times running. This alarmed the house, and up ran two servant maids, and my servant after them. I cried out for water and hartshorn, and every one flew a different way, one of the maids as fast down as she came up; while the gentlewoman ran out of one room into another, and by turns up and down the apartment we were in, without meaning or end, wringing her foolish hands, and not knowing what she did.
Up then came running a gentleman and his sister, fetched, and brought in by the maid, who had run down, and having let in a cursed crabbed old wretch, hobbling with his gout, and mumbling with his hoarse broken-toothed voice, who was metamorphosed all at once into a lively, gay young fellow, with a clear accent, and all his teeth, she would have it, that I was neither more nor less than the devil, and could not keep her eye from my foot, expecting, no doubt, every minute to see it discover itself to be cloven.
For my part, I was so intent upon restoring my angel, that I regarded nobody else. And, at last, she slowly recovering motion, with bitter sighs and sobs, (only the whites of her eyes however appearing for some moments,) I called upon her in the tenderest accent, as I kneeled by her, my arm supporting her head, My angel! my charmer! my Clarissa! look upon me, my dearest life!—I am not angry with you; I will forgive you, my best beloved.
The gentleman and his sister knew not what to make of all this: and the less, when my fair-one, recovering her sight, snatched another look at me; and then again groaned, and fainted away.
I threw up the closet-sash for air, and then left her to the care of the young gentlewoman, the same notable Miss Rawlins, who I had heard of at the Flask: and to that of Mrs. Moore; who by this time had recovered herself; and then retiring to one corner of the room, I made my servant pull off my gouty stockings, brush my hat, and loop it up into the usual smart cock.
I then stept to the closet to Mr. Rawlins, whom, in the general confusion, I had not much minded before.—Sir, said I, you have an uncommon scene before you. The lady is my wife, and no gentleman's presence is necessary here but my own.
I beg pardon, Sir; if the lady be your wife, I have no business here. But, Sir, by her concern at seeing you—
Pray, Sir, none of your if's and but's, I beseech you: nor your concern about the lady's concern. You are a very unqualified judge in this cause; and I beg of you, Sir, to oblige me with your absence. The women only are proper to be present on this occasion, added I; and I think myself obliged to them for their care and kind assistance.
'Tis well he made not another word: for I found my choler begin to rise. I could not bear, that the finest neck, and arms, and foot, in the world, should be exposed to the eyes of any man living but mine.
I withdrew once more from the closet, finding her beginning to recover, lest the sight of me too soon should throw her back again.
The first words she said, looking round her with great emotion, were, Oh! hide me, hide me! Is he gone?—Oh! hide me!—Is he gone?
Sir, said Miss Rawlins, coming to me with an air both peremptory and assured, This is some surprising case. The lady cannot bear the sight of you. What you have done is best known to yourself. But another such fit will probably be her last. It would be but kind therefore for you to retire.
It behoved me to have so notable a person of my party; and the rather as I had disobliged her impertinent brother.
The dear creature, said I, may well, be concerned to see me. If you, Madam, had a husband who loved you as I love her, you would not, I am confident, fly from him, and expose yourself to hazards, as she does whenever she has not all her way—and yet with a mind not capable of intentional evil—but mother-spoilt!—This is her fault, and all her fault: and the more inexcusable it is, as I am the man of her choice, and have reason to think she loves me above all the men in the world.
Here, Jack, was a story to support to the lady; face to face too!*
* And here, Belford, lest thou, through inattention, should be surprised at my assurance, let me remind thee (and that, thus, by way of marginal observation, that I may not break in upon my narrative) that this my intrepidity concerted (as I have from time to time acquainted thee) in apprehension of such an event as has fallen out. For had not the dear creature already passed for my wife before no less than four worthy gentlemen of family and fortune?** and before Mrs. Sinclair, and her household, and Miss Partington? And had she not agreed to her uncle's expedient, that she should pass for such, from the time of Mr. Hickman's application to that uncle;*** and that the worthy Capt. Tomlinson should be allowed to propagate that belief: as he had actually reported to two families (they possibly to more); purposely that it might come to the ears of James Harlowe; and serve for a foundation for uncle John to build his reconciliation-scheme upon? And canst thou think that nothing was meant by all this contrivance? and that I am not still further prepared to support my story?
** See Vol. IV. Letter IV. towards the conclusion. *** Ibid. Letter XVI. Ibid.
Indeed, I little thought, at the time that I formed these precautionary schemes, that she would ever have been able, if willing, to get out of my hands. All that I hoped I should have occasion to have recourse to them for, was only, in case I should have the courage to make the grand attempt, and should succeed in it, to bring the dear creature [and this out of tenderness to her, for what attention did I ever yet pay to the grief, the execrations, the tears of a woman I had triumphed over?] to bear me in her sight: to expostulate with me, to be pacified by my pleas, and by my own future hopes, founded upon the reconciliatory-project, upon my reiterated vows, and upon the Captain's assurances. Since in that case, to forgive me, to have gone on with me, for a week, would have been to forgive me, to have gone on with me, for ever. And that, had my eligible life of honour taken place, her trials would all have been then over: and she would have known nothing but gratitude, love, and joy, to the end of one of our lives. For never would I, never could I, have abandoned such an admirable creature as this. Thou knowest I never was a sordid villain to any of her inferiors—Her inferiors, I may say—For who is not her inferior?
You speak like a gentleman; you look like a gentleman, said Miss Rawlins—but, Sir, this is a strange case; the lady sees to dread the sight of you.
No wonder, Madam; taking her a little on one side, nearer to Mrs. Moore. I have three times already forgiven the dear creature—but this is jealousy!—There is a spice of that in it—and of phrensy too [whispered I, that it might have the face of a secret, and of consequence the more engage their attention]—but our story is too long.
I then made a motion to go to my beloved. But they desired that I would walk into the next room; and they would endeavour to prevail upon her to lie down.
I begged that they would not suffer her to talk; for that she was accustomed to fits, and, when in this way, would talk of any thing that came uppermost: and the more she was suffered to run on, the worse she was; and if not kept quiet, would fall into ravings: which might possibly hold her a week.
The promised to keep her quiet; and I withdrew into the next room; ordering every one down but Mrs. Moore and Miss Rawlins.
She was full of exclamations! Unhappy creature! miserable! ruined! and undone! she called herself; wrung her hands, and begged they would assist her to escape from the terrible evils she should otherwise be made to suffer.
They preached patience and quietness to her; and would have had her to lie down: but she refused; sinking, however, into an easy chair; for she trembled so she could not stand.
By this time, I hoped, that she was enough recovered to bear a presence that it behoved me to make her bear; and fearing she would throw out something in her exclamations, that would still more disconcert me, I went into the room again.
O there he is! said she, and threw her apron over her face—I cannot see him!—I cannot look upon him!—Begone, begone! touch me not!—
For I took her struggling hand, beseeching her to be pacified; and assuring her, that I would make all up with her upon her own terms and wishes.
Base man! said the violent lady, I have no wishes, but never to behold you more! Why must I be thus pursued and haunted? Have you not made me miserable enough already?—Despoiled of all succour and help, and of every friend, I am contented to be poor, low, and miserable, so I may live free from your persecutions.
Miss Rawlins stared at me [a confident slut this Miss Rawlins, thought I]: so did Mrs. Moore. I told you so! whispering said I, turning to the women; shaking my head with a face of great concern and pity; and then to my charmer, My dear creature, how you rave! You will not easily recover from the effects of this violence. Have patience, my love. Be pacified; and we will coolly talk this matter over: for you expose yourself, as well as me: these ladies will certainly think you have fallen among robbers, and that I am the chief of them.
So you are! so you are! stamping, her face still covered [she thought of Wednesday night, no doubt]; and, sighing as if her heart were breaking, she put her hand to her forehead—I shall be quite distracted!
I will not, my dearest love, uncover your face. You shall not look upon me, since I am so odious to you. But this is a violence I never thought you capable of.
And I would have pressed her hand, as I held it, with my lips; but she drew it from me with indignation.
Unhand me, Sir, said she. I will not be touched by you. Leave me to my fate. What right, what title, have you to persecute me thus?
What right, what title, my dear!—But this is not a time—I have a letter from Captain Tomlinson—here it is—offering it to her—
I will receive nothing from your hands—tell me not of Captain Tomlinson—tell me not of any body—you have no right to invade me thus— once more leave me to my fate—have you not made me miserable enough?
I touched a delicate string, on purpose to set her in such a passion before the women, as might confirm the intimation I had given of a phrensical disorder.
What a turn is here!—Lately so happy—nothing wanting but a reconciliation between you and your friends!—That reconciliation in such a happy train—shall so slight, so accidental an occasion be suffered to overturn all our happiness?
She started up with a trembling impatience, her apron falling from her indignant face—now, said she, that thou darest to call the occasion slight and accidental, and that I am happily out of thy vile hands, and out of a house I have reason to believe as vile, traitor and wretch as thou art, I will venture to cast an eye upon thee—and Oh! that it were in my power, in mercy to my sex, to look thee first into shame and remorse, and then into death!
This violent tragedy-speech, and the high manner in which she uttered it, had its desired effect. I looked upon the women, and upon her by turns, with a pitying eye; and they shook their wise heads, and besought me to retire, and her to lie down to compose herself.
This hurricane, like other hurricanes, was presently allayed by a shower. She threw herself once more into her armed chair, and begged pardon of the women for her passionate excess; but not of me: yet I was in hopes, that when compliments were stirring, I should have come in for a share.
Indeed, Ladies, said I, [with assurance enough, thou'lt say,] this violence is not natural to my beloved's temper—misapprehension—
Misapprehension, wretch!—And want I excuses from thee!
Bu what a scorn was every lovely feature agitated!
Then turning her face from me, I have not patience, O thou guileful betrayer, to look upon thee! Begone! Begone! With a face so unblushing, how darest thou appear in my presence?
I thought then, that the character of a husband obliged me to be angry.
You may one day, Madam, repent this treatment:—by my soul, you may. You know I have not deserved it of you—you know—I have not.
Do I know you have not?—Wretch! Do I know—
You do, Madam—and never did man of my figure and consideration, [I thought it was proper to throw that in] meet with such treatment—
She lifted up her hands: indignation kept her silent.
But all is of a piece with the charge you bring against me of despoiling you of all succour and help, of making you poor and low, and with other unprecedented language. I will only say, before these two gentlewomen, that since it must be so, and since your former esteem for me is turned into so riveted an aversion, I will soon, very soon, make you entirely easy. I will be gone:—I will leave you to your own fate, as you call it; and may that be happy!—Only, that I may not appear to be a spoiler, a robber indeed, let me know whither I shall send your apparel, and every thing that belongs to you, and I will send it.
Send it to this place; and assure me, that you will never molest me more; never more come near me; and that is all I ask of you.
I will do so, Madam, said I, with a dejected air. But did I ever think I should be so indifferent to you?—However, you must permit me to insist on your reading this letter; and on your seeing Captain Tomlinson, and hearing what he has to say from your uncle. He will be here by-and-by.
Don't trifle with me, said she in an imperious tone—do as you offer. I will not receive any letter from your hands. If I see Captain Tomlinson, it shall be on his own account, not on your's. You tell me you will send me my apparel—if you would have me believe any thing you say, let this be the test of your sincerity.—Leave me now, and send my things.
The women started.—They did nothing but stare; and appeared to be more and more at a loss what to make of the matter between us.
I pretended to be going from her in a pet; but, when I had got to the door, I turned back; and, as if I had recollected myself—One word more, my dearest creature!—Charming, even in your anger!—O my fond soul! said I, turning half round, and pulling out my handkerchief.—
I believe, Jack, my eyes did glisten a little. I have no doubt but they did. The women pitied me—honest souls! They showed they had each of them a handkerchief as well as I. So, has thou not observed (to give a familiar illustration,) every man in a company of a dozen, or more, obligingly pull out his watch, when some one has asked what's o'clock?— As each man of a like number, if one talks of his beard, will fall to stroking his chin with his four fingers and thumb.
One word only, Madam, repeated I, (as soon as my voice had recovered its tone,) I have represented to Captain Tomlinson in the most favourable light the cause of our present misunderstanding. You know what your uncle insists upon, and with which you have acquiesced.—The letter in my hand, [and again I offered it to her,] will acquaint you with what you have to apprehend from your brother's active malice.
She was going to speak in a high accent, putting the letter from her, with an open palm—Nay, hear me out, Madam—The Captain, you know, has reported our marriage to two different persons. It is come to your brother's ears. My own relations have also heard of it.—Letters were brought me from town this morning, from Lady Betty Lawrance, and Miss Montague. Here they are. [I pulled them out of my pocket, and offered them to her, with that of the Captain; but she held back her still open palm, that she might not receive them.] Reflect, Madam, I beseech you, reflect upon the fatal consequences with which this, your high resentment, may be attended.
Ever since I knew you, said she, I have been in a wilderness of doubt and error. I bless God that I am out of your hands. I will transact for myself what relates to myself. I dismiss all your solicitude for me.— Am I not my own mistress?—Have you any title?—
The women stared—[the devil stare ye, thought I!—Can ye do nothing but stare?]—It was high time to stop her here.
I raised my voice to drown her's.—You used, my dearest creature, to have a tender and apprehensive heart.—You never had so much reason for such a one as now.
Let me judge for myself, upon what I shall see, not upon what I shall hear.—Do you think I shall ever?—
I dreaded her going on—I must be heard, Madam, (raising my voice still higher,)—you must let me read one paragraph or two out of this letter to you, if you will not read it yourself—
Begone from me, Man!—Begone from me with thy letters! What pretence hast thou for tormenting me thus? What right?—What title?—
Dearest creature! what questions you ask!—Questions that you can as well answer yourself—
I can, I will, and thus I answer them—
Still louder I raised my voice.—She was overborne.—Sweet soul! It would be hard, thought I, [and yet I was very angry with her,] if such a spirit as thine cannot be brought to yield to such a one as mine!
I lowered my voice on her silence. All gentle, all intreative, my accent. My head bowed—one hand held out—the other on my honest heart. —For heaven's sake, my dearest creature, resolve to see Captain Tomlinson with temper. He would have come along with me, but I was willing to try to soften your mind first on this fatal misapprehension, and this for the same of your own wishes. For what is it otherwise to me, whether your friends are, or are not, reconciled to us?—Do I want any favour from them?—For your own mind's sake, therefore, frustrate not Captain Tomlinson's negociation. That worthy gentleman will be here in the afternoon; Lady Betty will be in town, with my cousin Montague, in a day or two.—They will be your visiters. I beseech you do not carry this misunderstanding so far, as that Lord M. and Lady Betty, and Lady Sarah, may know it. [How considerable this made me look to the women!] Lady Betty will not let you rest till you consent to accompany her to her own seat—and to that lady may you safely intrust your cause.
Again, upon my pausing a moment, she was going to break out. I liked not the turn of her countenance, nor the tone of her voice—'And thinkest thou, base wretch,' were the words she did utter: I again raised my voice, and drowned her's.—Base wretch, Madam?—You know that I have not deserved the violent names you have called me. Words so opprobrious from a mind so gentle!—But this treatment is from you, Madam?—From you, whom I love more than my own soul!—By that soul, I swear that I do.—[The women looked upon each other—they seemed pleased with my ardour.—Women, whether wives, maids, or widows, love ardours: even Miss Howe, thou knowest, speaks up for ardours,*]—Nevertheless, I must say, that you have carried matters too far for the occasion. I see you hate me—
* See Vol. IV. Letters XXIX. and XXXIV.
She was just going to speak—If we are to separate for ever, in a strong and solemn voice, proceeded I, this island shall not long be troubled with me. Mean time, only be pleased to give these letters a perusal, and consider what is to be said to your uncle's friend, and what he is to say to your uncle.—Any thing will I come into, (renounce me, if you will,) that shall make for your peace, and for the reconciliation your heart was so lately set upon. But I humbly conceive, that it is necessary that you should come into better temper with me, were it but to give a favourable appearance to what has passed, and weight to any future application to your friends, in whatever way you shall think proper to make it.
I then put the letters into her lap, and retired into the next apartment with a low bow, and a very solemn air.
I was soon followed by the two women. Mrs. Moore withdrew to give the fair perverse time to read them: Miss Rawlins for the same reason, and because she was sent for home.
The widow besought her speedy return. I joined in the same request; and she was ready enough to promise to oblige us.
I excused myself to Mrs. Moore for the disguise I had appeared in at first, and for the story I had invented. I told her that I held myself obliged to satisfy her for the whole floor we were upon; and for an upper room for my servant, and that for a month certain.
She made many scruples, and begged she might not be urged, on this head, till she had consulted Miss Rawlins.
I consented; but told her, that she had taken my earnest, and I hoped there was no room for dispute.
Just then Miss Rawlins returned, with an air of eager curiosity; and having been told what had passed between Mrs. Moore and me, she gave herself airs of office immediately: which I humoured, plainly perceiving that if I had her with me I had the other.
She wished, if there were time for it, and if it were not quite impertinent in her to desire it, that I would give Mrs. Moore and her a brief history of an affair, which, as she said, bore the face of novelty, mystery, and surprise. For sometimes it looked to her as if we were married; at other times that point appeared doubtful; and yet the lady did not absolutely deny it, but, upon the whole, thought herself highly injured.
I said that our's was a very particular case.—That, were I to acquaint them with it, some part of it would hardly appear credible. But, however, as they seemed hardly to be persons of discretion, I would give them a brief account of the whole; and this in so plain and sincere a manner, that it should clear up, to their satisfaction, every thing that had passed, or might hereafter pass between us.
They sat down by me and threw every feature of their faces into attention. I was resolved to go as near the truth as possible, lest any thing should drop from my spouse to impeach my veracity; and yet keep in view what passed at the Flask.
It is necessary, although thou knowest my whole story, and a good deal of my views, that thou shouldst be apprized of the substance of what I told them.
'I gave them, in as concise a manner as I was able, this history of our families, fortunes, alliances, antipathies, her brother's and mine particularly. I averred the truth of our private marriage.' The Captain's letter, which I will enclose, will give thee my reasons for that. And, besides, the women might have proposed a parson to me by way of compromise. 'I told them the condition my spouse had made me swear to; and to which she held me, in order, I said, to induce me the sooner to be reconciled to her relations.
'I owned, that this restraint made me sometimes ready to fly out.' And Mrs. Moore was so good as to declare, that she did not much wonder at it.
Thou art a very good sort of woman, Mrs. Moore, thought I.
As Miss Howe has actually detected our mother, and might possibly find some way still to acquaint her friend with her discoveries, I thought it proper to prepossess them in favour of Mrs. Sinclair and her two nieces.
I said, 'they were gentlewomen born; that they had not bad hearts; that indeed my spouse did not love them; they having once taken the liberty to blame her for her over-niceness with regard to me. People, I said, even good people, who knew themselves to be guilty of a fault they had no inclination to mend, were too often least patient when told of it; as they could less bear than others to be thought indifferently of.'
Too often the case, they owned.
'Mrs. Sinclair's house was a very handsome house, and fit to receive the first quality, [true enough, Jack!] Mrs. Sinclair was a woman very easy in her circumstances:—A widow gentlewoman, as you, Mrs. Moore, are.— Lets lodgings, as you, Mrs. Moore, do.—Once had better prospects as you, Mrs. Moore, may have had: the relict of Colonel Sinclair;—you, Mrs. Moore, might know Colonel Sinclair—he had lodgings at Hampstead.'
She had heard of the name.
'Oh! he was related to the best families in Scotland!—And his widow is not to be reflected upon because she lets lodgings you know, Mrs. Moore— you know, Miss Rawlins.'
Very true, and very true.—And they must needs say, it did not look quite so pretty, in such a lady as my spouse, to be so censorious.
A foundation here, thought I, to procure these women's help to get back the fugitive, or their connivance, at least, at my doing so; as well as for anticipating any future information from Miss Howe.
I gave them a character of that virago; and intimated, 'that for a head to contrive mischief, and a heart to execute it, she had hardly her equal in her sex.'
To this Miss Howe it was, Mrs. Moore said, she supposed, that my spouse was so desirous to dispatch a man and horse, by day-dawn, with a letter she wrote before she went to bed last night, proposing to stay no longer than till she had received an answer to it.
The very same, said I; I knew she would have immediate recourse to her. I should have been but too happy, could I have prevented such a letter from passing, or so to have it managed, as to have it given into Mrs. Howe's hands, instead of her daughter's. Women who had lived some time in the world knew better, than to encourage such skittish pranks in young wives.
Let me just stop to tell thee, while it is in my head, that I have since given Will. his cue to find out where the man lives who is gone with the fair fugitive's letter; and, if possible, to see him on his return, before he sees her.
I told the women, 'I despaired that it would ever be better with us while Miss Howe had so strange an ascendancy over my spouse, and remained herself unmarried. And until the reconciliation with her friends could be effected; or a still happier event—as I should think it, who am the last male of my family; and which my foolish vow, and her rigour, had hitherto'—
Here I stopt, and looked modest, turning my diamond ring round my finger; while goody Moore looked mighty significant, calling it a very particular case; and the maiden fanned away, and primm'd, and purs'd, to show that what I had said needed no farther explanantion.
'I told them the occasion of our present difference. I avowed the reality of the fire; but owned, that I would have made no scruple of breaking the unnatural oath she had bound me in, (having a husband's right on my side,) when she was so accidentally frighted into my arms; and I blamed myself excessively, that I did not; since she thought fit to carry her resentment so high, and had the injustice to suppose the fire to be a contrivance of mine.'
Nay, for that matter, Mrs. Moore said, as we were married, and madam was so odd—every gentleman would not—and stopt there Mrs. Moore.
'To suppose I should have recourse to such a poor contrivance, said I, when I saw the dear creature every hour.'—Was not this a bold put, Jack?
A most extraordinary case, truly, cried the maiden; fanning, yet coming in with her Well-but's!—and her sifting Pray, Sir's!—and her restraining Enough, Sir's.—flying from the question to the question—her seat now-and-then uneasy, for fear my want of delicacy should hurt her abundant modesty; and yet it was difficult to satisfy her super-abundant curiosity.
'My beloved's jealousy, [and jealousy of itself, to female minds, accounts for a thousand unaccountablenesses,] and the imputation of her half-phrensy, brought upon her by her father's wicked curse, and by the previous persecutions she had undergone from all her family, were what I dwelt upon, in order to provide against what might happen.'
In short, 'I owned against myself most of the offences which I did not doubt but she would charge me with in their hearing; and as every cause has a black and white side, I gave the worst parts of our story the gentlest turn. And when I had done, acquainted them with some of the contents of that letter of Captain Tomlinson which I left with the lady. I concluded with James Harlowe, and of Captain Singleton, or of any sailor-looking men.'
This thou wilt see, from the letter itself, was necessary to be done. Here, therefore, thou mayest read it. And a charming letter to my purpose wilt thou find it to be, if thou givest the least attention to its contents.
TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ. WEDN. JUNE 7.
Although I am obliged to be in town to-morrow, or next day at farthest, yet I would not dispense with writing to you, by one of my servants, (whom I send up before upon a particular occasion,) in order to advertise you, that it is probable you will hear from some of your own relations on your [supposed*] nuptials. One of the persons, (Mr. Lilburne by name,) to whom I hinted my belief of your marriage, happens to be acquainted with Mr. Spurrier, Lady Betty Lawrance's steward, and (not being under any restriction) mentioned it to Mr. Spurrier, and he to Lady Betty, as a thing certain; and this, (though I have not the honour to be personally known to her Ladyship,) brought on an inquiry from her Ladyship to me by her gentleman; who coming to me in company with Mr. Lilburne, I had no way but to confirm the report.—And I understand, that Lady Betty takes it amiss that she was not acquainted with so desirable a piece of news from yourself.
* What is between hooks [ ] thou mayest suppose, Jack, I sunk upon the women, in the account I gave them of the contents of this letter.
Her Ladyship, it seems, has business that calls her to town [and you will possibly choose to put her right. If you do, it will, I presume, be in confidence; that nothing may transpire from your own family to contradict what I have given out.]
[I have ever been of opinion, That truth ought to be strictly adhered to on all occasions: and am concerned that I have, (though with so good a view,) departed from my old maxim. But my dear friend Mr. John Harlowe would have it so. Yet I never knew a departure of this kind a single departure. But, to make the best of it now, allow me, Sir, once more to beg the lady, as soon as possible, to authenticate the report given out.] When both you and the lady join in the acknowledgement of your marriage, it will be impertinent in any one to be inquisitive as to the day or week. [And if as privately celebrated as you intend, (while the gentlewomen with whom you lodge are properly instructed, as you say they are, and who shall actually believe you were married long ago,) who shall be able to give a contradiction to my report?]
And yet it is very probable, that minute inquiries will be made; and this is what renders precaution necessary; for Mr. James Harlowe will not believe that you are married; and is sure, he says, that you both lived together when Mr. Hickman's application was made to Mr. John Harlowe: and if you lived together any time unmarried, he infers from your character, Mr. Lovelace, that it is not probable that you would ever marry. And he leaves it to his two uncles to decide, if you even should be married, whether there be not room to believe, that his sister was first dishonoured; and if so, to judge of the title she will have to their favour, or to the forgiveness of any of her family.—I believe, Sir, this part of my letter had best be kept from the lady.
Young Mr. Harlowe is resolved to find this out, and to come at his sister's speech likewise: and for that purpose sets out to-morrow, as I am well informed, with a large attendance armed; and Mr. Solmes is to be of the party. And what makes him the more earnest to find it out is this:—Mr. John Harlowe has told the whole family that he will alter, and new-settle his will. Mr. Antony Harlowe is resolved to do the same by his; for, it seems, he has now given over all thoughts of changing his condition, having lately been disappointed in a view he had of that sort with Mrs. Howe. These two brothers generally act in concert; and Mr. James Harlowe dreads (and let me tell you, that he has reason for it, on my Mr. Harlowe's account) that his younger sister will be, at last, more benefited than he wishes for, by the alteration intended. He has already been endeavouring to sound his uncle Harlowe on this subject; and wanted to know whether any new application had been made to him on his sister's part. Mr. Harlowe avoided a direct answer, and expressed his wishes for a general reconciliation, and his hopes that his niece were married. This offended the furious young man, and he reminded his uncle of engagements they had all entered into at his sister's going away, not to be reconciled but by general consent.
Mr. John Harlowe complains to me often of the uncontroulableness of his nephew; and says, that now that the young man has not any body of whose superior sense he stands in awe, he observes not decency in his behaviour to any of them, and this makes my Mr. Harlowe still more desirous than ever of bringing his younger niece into favour again. I will not say all I might of this young man's extraordinary rapaciousness:—but one would think, that these grasping men expect to live for ever!
'I took the liberty but within these two hours to propose to set on foot (and offered my cover to) a correspondence between my friend and his daughter-niece, as she still sometimes fondly calls her. She was mistress of so much prudence, I said, that I was sure she could better direct every thing to its desirable end, than any body else could. But he said, he did not think himself entirely at liberty to take such a step at present; and that it was best that he should have it in his power to say, occasionally, that he had not any correspondence with her, or letter from her.
'You will see, Sir, from all this, the necessity of keeping our treaty an absolute secret; and if the lady has mentioned it to her worthy friend Miss Howe, I hope it is in confidence.'
[And now, Sir, a few lines in answer to your's of Monday last.]
[Mr. Harlowe was very well pleased with your readiness to come into his proposal. But as to what you both desire, that he will be present at the ceremony, he said, that his nephew watched all his steps so narrowly, that he thought it was not practicable (if he were inclinable) to oblige you: but that he consented, with all his heart, that I should be the person whom he had stipulated should be privately present at the ceremony on his part.]
[However, I think, I have an expedient for this, if your lady continues to be very desirous of her uncle's presence (except he should be more determined than his answer to me seemed to import); of which I shall acquaint you, and perhaps of what he says to it, when I have the pleasure to see you in town. But, indeed, I think you have no time to lose. Mr. Harlowe is impatient to hear, that you are actually one; and I hope I may carry him down word, when I leave you next, that I saw the ceremony performed.]
[If any obstacle arises from the lady, (from you it cannot,) I shall be tempted to think a little hardly of her punctilio.]
Mr. Harlowe hopes, Sir, that you will rather take pains to avoid, than to meet, this violent young man. He has the better opinion of you, let me tell you, Sir, from the account I gave him of your moderation and politeness; neither of which are qualities with his nephew. But we have all of us something to amend.
You cannot imagine how dearly my friend still loves this excellent niece of his.—I will give you an instance of it, which affected me a good deal—-'If once more, said he, (the last time but one we were together,) I can but see this sweet child gracing the upper end of my table, as mistress of my house, in my allotted month; all the rest of my family present but as her guests; for so I formerly would have it; and had her mother's consent for it—' There he stopt; for he was forced to turn his reverend face from me. Tears ran down his cheeks. Fain would he have hid them: but he could not—'Yet—yet, said he—how—how—' [poor gentleman, he perfectly sobbed,] 'how shall I be able to bear the first meeting!'
I bless God I am no hard-hearted man, Mr. Lovelace: my eyes showed to my worthy friend, that he had no reason to be ashamed of his humanity before me.
I will put an end to this long epistle. Be pleased to make my compliments acceptable to the most excellent of women; as well as believe me to be,
Dear Sir, Your faithful friend, and humble servant, ANTONY TOMLINSON.
During the conversation between me and the women, I had planted myself at the farthest end of the apartment we were in, over against the door, which was open; and opposite to the lady's chamber-door, which was shut. I spoke so low that it was impossible for her, at that distance, to hear what we said; and in this situation I could see if her door was opened.
I told the women, that what I had mentioned to my spouse of Lady Betty's coming to town with her niece Montague, and of their intention to visit my beloved, whom they had never seen, nor she them, was real; and that I expected news of their arrival every hour. I then showed them copies of the other two letters, which I had left with her; the one from Lady Betty, the other from my cousin Montague.—And here thou mayest read them if thou wilt.
Eternally reproaching, eternally upbraiding me, are my impertinent relations. But they are fond of occasions to find fault with me. Their love, their love, Jack, and their dependence on my known good humour, are their inducements.
TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ. WED. MORN. JUNE 7.
I understand that at length all our wishes are answered in your happy marriage. But I think we might as well have heard of it directly from you, as from the round-about way by which we have been made acquainted with it. Methinks, Sir, the power and the will we have to oblige you, should not expose us the more to your slights and negligence. My brother had set his heart upon giving to you the wife we have all so long wished you to have. But if you were actually married at the time you made him that request (supposing, perhaps, that his gout would not let him attend you) it is but like you.*—If your lady had her reasons to wish it to be private while the differences between her family and self continue, you might nevertheless have communicated it to us with that restriction; and we should have forborne the public manifestations of our joy upon an event we have so long desired.
* I gave Mrs. Moore and Miss Rawlins room to think this reproach just, Jack.
The distant way we have come to know it is by my steward; who is acquainted with a friend of Captain Tomlinson, to whom that gentleman revealed it: and he, it seems, had it from yourself and lady, with such circumstances as leave it not to be doubted.
I am, indeed, very much disobliged with you: so is Lady Sarah. But I have a very speedy opportunity to tell you so in person; being obliged to go to town to my old chancery affair. My cousin Leeson, who is, it seems, removed to Albemarle-street, has notice of it. I shall be at her house, where I bespeak your attendance of Sunday night. I have written to my cousin Charlotte for either her, or her sister, to meet me at Reading, and accompany me to town. I shall stay but a few days; my business being matter of form only. On my return I shall pop upon Lord M. at M. Hall, to see in what way his last fit has left him.